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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today it will purchase 20,000 treatment courses of ABthrax, an anthrax therapeutic treatment, from Human Genome Sciences of Rockville, Md. for $165,205,217. Delivery is expected to begin in 2009. Under the terms of the agreement, full payment to Human Genome Sciences is contingent on the product receiving licensure from the Food and Drug Administration.
This important addition to the Strategic National Stockpile will provide physicians a way to neutralize the deadly toxin anthrax bacteria produces, said Dr. Gerald Parker, HHS acting assistant secretary for public health emergency preparedness. And we found it is the toxin which accounted for the majority of anthrax-related deaths during the anthrax attacks of 2001.
The Department of Homeland Security has determined that anthrax poses a threat to the U.S. population and the interagency Weapons of Mass Destruction Medical Countermeasures Subcommittee has recommended that anthrax therapeutics be acquired to improve the nations biodefense preparedness and response capabilities and protect civilians from a potentially lethal exposure to anthrax spores.
In September 2005, HHS awarded a base contract to Human Genome Sciences for acquisition of a small amount of ABthrax, their antitoxin product, for independent government analysis and testing. The base contract included an option to acquire additional product following the testing and HHS is now exercising that option.
HHS Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness, which oversees the advanced research and procurement efforts under the Project BioShield program through its Office of Research and Development Coordination, manages the contract with Human Genome Sciences.